Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand: Windy Wellington Makes First Impression (or How I got on NZ TV!)

Air New Zealand Plane

A call went out of the PA system in Dunedin: There was a windstorm in Wellington; anyone who didn’t want to fly today would be allowed to reschedule. There would be no guarantee that the plane would arrive at its scheduled designation.

I thought about it briefly, but I had a hotel booked, and we had our Weta Workshop tour on Dec. 5th. We didn’t absolutely have to be in Wellington. Jenya loved Dunedin. There was just something about the town that got to her. Maybe it was the penguins. Still, the hotel weighed heavily on my mind, and the weather may or may not be better tomorrow. We got on the flight.

The pilot came on and told us about the weather. If we couldn’t make it into Wellington, we would head over to Palmerston North. If that option wasn’t available, we would go on to Auckland. The flight went smoothly enough until about two-thirds of the way through.

The pilot said the situation hadn’t changed. We would still try to land, but if we heard the engines revving and there was a sudden skyward tilt, that would just be normal. It would be a missed landing, but no one should get worried about it. The fasten seatbelt sign was lit.

We hit pockets of turbulence and the girl in front of us was treating it like an attraction at Disneyland. Her mom – not so much. The plane jerked enough to keep me from reading, but we landed safely.

We went down to the baggage claim area, and the TV news interviewed me about the flight! I looked the live cast up online, and I made it on the news. “Well, we hit the ground, and everyone clapped and was like ‘Yay! We’re here.’” (Make an account with the website and you can see me at about the 3:50 mark. This is the 6 o’clock newscast!)  Today, the New Zealand News (Channel Three) Tomorrow, a part with Flight of the Conchords (affiliate link) and an interview with Stephen Colbert, the Newest Zealander!

Advertisements
Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand: Dunedin's Hungry Hobos Goes Easy on the Wallet without Sacrificing Flavor or Fun

Toastie from Hungry Hobos and Coffee from Sabayon

When we arrived in Dunedin, we were hungry. Usually, we have to look at a few restaurants for food options and cost before we can agree on a place.  We didn’t have to even discuss where we were going to eat in Dunedin. On just the sign alone, we were both in agreement: Hungry Hobos was the place we should go. And their toasties were just the right salve for our hunger.

Continue reading New Zealand: Dunedin's Hungry Hobos Goes Easy on the Wallet without Sacrificing Flavor or Fun
Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand: Is the Future of Air Travel in Christchurch Already?

Air New Zealand Plane

The domestic flight procedures in Christchurch are almost entirely automated. You check in online, bring your boarding pass to the kiosk, and scan it. If you have no boarding pass, you can use your passport or credit card to access the information. Once the system has retrieved your information, it asks you security questions and issues a destination tag for your bag. Place the tag on the bag by peeling the back off and attaching the two circles together; they give you drawings to show how its done. You then take the bag to the bag drop off.

Continue reading New Zealand: Is the Future of Air Travel in Christchurch Already?
Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand: Christchurch Gondola Tops Tourist Attraction List

A gondola at Christchurch Gondola

The Christchurch Gondola on Mount Cavendish is rated as Christchurch’s most popular tourist attraction and offers soaring views of Christchurch and Lyttleton. You can sit above the Canterbury Plains and look at the beautiful countryside while eating at The Red Rock Café, which has an interesting assortment of menu items. The Time Tunnel is great for theme park enthusiasts that want to see something a little different than the normal fare.

Continue reading New Zealand: Christchurch Gondola Tops Tourist Attraction List
Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand: ilex café at Christchurch Botanic Gardens Is for the Birdwatchers

Chaffinch

The ilex café in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, New Zealand is a glorious combination of amazing food choices, good coffee and, if you sit outside, a personal bird experience. The orecchiette, peas and Parmesan salad was a good starter for our meal. We added the pretzel bread breakfast roll with egg and cherry hoisin. Our flat whites were decent.

Continue reading New Zealand: ilex café at Christchurch Botanic Gardens Is for the Birdwatchers
Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand: Tiritiri Matangi Lets Your Spirits Soar

New Zealand Christmas Tree

Tiritiri Matangi is everything a vacation tour should be. An enthusiastic, knowledgeable tour guide takes a small group into the wilderness and provides information in a fun, interesting way while making sure to point out the birds that happen to fly nearby. Tiritiri Matangi goes a step further because it provides the ability to listen to the birds as well as see them.

Continue reading New Zealand: Tiritiri Matangi Lets Your Spirits Soar
Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand: Aucky Walky Tours Delivers Auckland Fun, Food, and Friendships

Auckland's Former Red Light District as outlined in art

An Aucky Walky Tour should be the first thing that everyone books when they come to Auckland. Because these tours are on foot, you get to see things that you miss in a bus or car. There are just certain locations that you can’t learn about until you experience them with someone who knows.

Continue reading New Zealand: Aucky Walky Tours Delivers Auckland Fun, Food, and Friendships
Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand Visit Bohemein Fresh Chocolates for Amazing (Chocolate) Fish

chocolate fish from Bohemein Fresh Chocolates

Checkers Penguin posted a picture of himself with a chocolate fish on Instagram, and I thought, “Eh, chocolate and marshmallow? I don’t know.” Then I saw these chocolate fish on different YouTube videos about New Zealand snacks, and I was still unimpressed. Marshmallow just isn’t my thing. They’re all right; they’re good for s’mores. I just, generally, won’t choose to eat them as a part of another dessert. Then, we went to Bohemein Fresh Chocolates.

Continue reading New Zealand Visit Bohemein Fresh Chocolates for Amazing (Chocolate) Fish
Posted on Leave a comment

New Zealand: Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s

Sea Life Kelly Tarlton's Shark Shuttle

After visiting Devonport, on the ferry back to Auckland, we had to choose between a whale and dolphin watching cruise and Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s. The wind was aggressive and cold enough to encourage us to opt for Sea Life. Plus, Tarlton’s has the world’s largest display colony of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic penguins. It was time to see penguins, even if they are in captivity. They also have one of the coolest vehicles in the world. I just wished it would have played a selection of shark music. (You know, the “Jaws” soundtrack, Mack the Knife, Baby Shark, Fins… Am I missing any shark songs? (affiliate links) Let me know in the comments.)

The first part of the exhibit explores the history of Scott Base in Antarctica and allows you to dunk your hand in cold sea water. Why did I do this? It was as cold as I expected. There are other activities that you can try as well. We were in a hurry to get to the penguins, especially knowing that we needed to catch the last shuttle back to Auckland.

The polar plunge: Dip your hands in icy Antarctic water.
No, I did not last 30 seconds. (Don’t @ me with your jokes.)

After watching a few penguins swim through their water area, we proceeded up the ramp and were greeted by the glorious sight of King penguins just standing around. What else does royalty do? One was sleeping on an incline with only one foot to keep traction, the other was tucked into its body. There were other penguins that seemed to be sleeping as well. Some looked up to the sky and stretched their necks.

King penguins at Sea Life Kelly Tarlton's
King penguins at Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s

Then a trio of Gentoos decided to enter the picture. Their wings were spread out as they waddled into the frame. One decided to go diving. The others stopped to look at all the humans looking at them. Penguins in the background decided to shout out for some reason. One of the Gentoos took an active interest in Patch Penguin; we think the Gentoo was wondering how Patch got to the other side of the glass.

Several of the Gentoos were incubating eggs. One was carrying a rock in its beak. It ran a few circles before I lost track of it and couldn’t see what it did with the rock. The penguin nodded their heads and then shook them. This was a highlight of the trip so far. We will probably never be able to see these particular penguins in the wild (unless we get a lot more people interested in our Patreon page, buying my books, or reading this blog [shameless plug]).

Pro Tip: If you wait long enough the horde of people will pass, and you can have one on one time enjoying the penguins. Second Pro Tip: Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s offers a Penguin Experience; it’ll set you back a pretty penny, but you’ll get so close to the penguins you can smell them.

Tarlton was an underwater enthusiast who wanted everyone to experience seeing life under the sea, the way that divers do. The underwater tunnels do just that for visitors as sharks, rays, and other fish glide overhead. They even have an automatic walkway that moves you slowly through the exhibit, so you can feel like you’re a part of the current. The rays are much larger than I expected them to be.

There are a lot of different kinds of fish to see and a lot of educational areas, including one about sea turtles and another about sea horses. The building itself goes under the road, so that the waves in the harbor are allowed to beat on the glass at the café. Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s was definitely worth the stop. We probably could have watched the fish and the penguins a lot longer.

Posted on 4 Comments

New Zealand: Take the Auckland Explorer Bus to Get Acquainted

New Zealand Take the Auckland Explorer Bus to Get Acquainted

The Auckland Explorer Bus offers the opportunity to hop on and hop off at several of the city’s more notable attractions. The tickets include a ferry ticket to Devonport. The brochure says that each of the two routes offered takes an hour to complete. That may be true, but only if you don’t get off at any of the stops. Jenya and I spent the day, about 5 hours, using the buses. We hope to use the ferry ticket tomorrow.

The first place we hopped off at was Bastion Point. We walked around the summit and looked at the harbors, islands, and Auckland itself. It was a nice vantage point, but we didn’t linger too long here as the main attraction was the view.

Continue reading New Zealand: Take the Auckland Explorer Bus to Get Acquainted